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Polio eradication: NGO warns NPHCDA, states against complacency

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the African Vaccination Week(AVW) from April 24-30, 2016, the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) has urged the  National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and states to avoid complacency in order to eradicate polio by 2017.

African Vaccination Week (AVW) is a regional initiative led and coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and implemented by countries within the region.

AVW is commemorated annually in April and provides a unique opportunity for countries and partners to strengthen their national immunization programmes through advocacy, health education, communication tools, activities and partnerships.

With the theme is “Close the immunization gap. Stay Polio Free”, Convener of WAVA, Dr Chizoba Wonodi said, efforts must continue to strengthen the immunization programmes further to ensure that every individual (particularly women and children) have unhindered access to routine immunization.

Wonodi said, “To us at Women Advocates for Vaccine Access, this week provides an opportunity for us to share the Nigerian immunization experiences and lessons learned. We celebrate the milestones achieved on immunization in Nigeria particularly the interruption of the transmission of wild polio virus.”

According to her, Nigeria has made significant gains through immunization; “this include a reduction in her under-five mortality rate by 41per cent  between 2000 and 2015. However, the current under-five mortality rate is still unacceptably high at 109 deaths per 1,000 live births. About 3 out 10 of these deaths are caused by vaccine preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, meningitis, and measles. Closing the immunization gap will help to save more lives but costs more money. Nigeria has started an exit transition from GAVI funding support.

“This implies that the government’s share of the cost of vaccine procurement and storage will increase from N14 billion in 2017 to N40 billion in 2020; thereafter, an average of N52 billion will be required every year.”

Highlighting the benefits of immunisation, she said, immunization helps reduces inequities in health outcomes, as both the poor and the rich are protected.

“By preventing diseases and death, vaccines save money from treatment and increases productivity through a healthier work force.  Consequently, it reduces poverty and promotes sustainable economic development.”

She urged government not to see immunization as an expenditure, but rather as an investment.

“When countries invest one US dollar in vaccine programs, they stand to gain between 16 and 44 dollars in economic returns. We hereby call on government to invest more in vaccines in order to close the immunization gap and strengthen the Nigerian economy.”

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